Groundbreaking wood construction of SAWA starts in Rotterdam

Groundbreaking wood construction of SAWA starts in Rotterdam

ROTTERDAM, 5 March 2024 – A groundbreaking step towards sustainable construction and future innovation has been made in Rotterdam with the commencement of the SAWA project. This initiative contributes to the city's skyline and sets new benchmarks in sustainability and biodiversity in urban development.

Milestone for SAWA

The official commencement of the circular wooden construction project SAWA in Rotterdam has been marked by the placement of its first wooden elements. On Monday, 4 March, Chantal Zeegers, the councillor for Climate, Building and Living, initiated the wooden construction phase by hoisting the first wooden beam onto the columns, in collaboration with the developers of the new building project, NICE Developers, and TBI company ERA Contour, alongside Mei architects and planners, wood partner Derix, and real estate investor Focus on Impact. This event signifies the beginning of what will be the first circular wooden residential building over 50 metres tall in Rotterdam, enhancing not only the city's skyline but also the standards for sustainability and biodiversity in urban developments.

Councillor Chantal Zeegers expressed her pride in the SAWA project, stating, “As a councillor of Rotterdam, I am proud of the SAWA project — a gem on the Lloydpier that breathes sustainability. This project is a game-changer: it contributes to CO2 reduction, utilises safe, quickly constructed, sustainable, and reusable wood, and sets a new standard for urban development. SAWA is proof that we can build sustainably, beautifully, and inclusively in Rotterdam.”

Jeroen Heijdra, CEO of ERA Contour, shared his enthusiasm about the beginning of the wood construction, noting, “We are delighted to see SAWA come to life with the start of the wood construction. This project represents not only our commitment to innovation in the construction sector but also our passion for creating a sustainable future for our cities and their inhabitants.” ERA Contour is responsible for both the co-development and construction of the SAWA project.

From left to right: Jeroen Heijdra (ERA Contour), Robert Winkel (NICE Developers + Mei architects and planners), Councillor Chantal Zeegers (municipality of Rotterdam), Freek Boeijen (Focus on Impact), Bianca Seekles (TBI), Mark Compeer (NICE Developers).From left to right: Jeroen Heijdra (ERA Contour), Robert Winkel (NICE Developers + Mei architects and planners), Councillor Chantal Zeegers (municipality of Rotterdam), Freek Boeijen (Focus on Impact), Bianca Seekles (TBI), Mark Compeer (NICE Developers).

Meeting and biodiversity

SAWA will be the first wooden residential building of over 50 meters in height in Rotterdam, enriching the city with 109 apartments, including 50 mid-rent dwellings, 20 free sector rental homes, and 39 owner-occupied homes. This mix of purchase and rental options makes living in SAWA accessible and affordable for a wide range of income groups. Besides the housing offer, the emphasis is on communal facilities to encourage encounters among residents and neighbours, fostering a vibrant community and preventing loneliness. The project's focus on greenery and biodiversity is unparalleled, with plans for 140 nesting boxes for birds and bats and 600 linear metres of permanent plant containers with over 20 carefully selected plant species in the facades and on the deck of SAWA. Thus, SAWA aims to contribute to an increase in biodiversity, particularly valuable in the largely stone urban environment of the Lloydkwartier.

Mark Compeer, developer and co-founder of NICE Developers, emphasised the significance of SAWA for the future: “With SAWA, we demonstrate that wood construction on this scale is not a utopia but a reality we create together. This moment marks not just a milestone in construction but also a crucial step towards a future where we store CO2 instead of emitting it. SAWA is not just a building; it is a symbol of change and the power of collaboration for a more sustainable world.”

Reducing CO2 emissions

Unique to SAWA is that the building is constructed entirely of CLT (cross-laminated timber) and Glulam (glued laminated timber), with minimal use of concrete. This innovation in construction allows for the application of dry ballast on the CLT floors instead of concrete, making the building completely dismantlable and thus circular. By using a large amount of wood, SAWA will store nearly 5,000 tonnes of CO2, contributing to national and international climate goals to reduce CO2 emissions. Additionally, the wood will provide a comfortable and healthy living environment for future residents.


SAWA is expected to be completed and open its doors to future residents at the beginning of 2025.

SAWA expert team

SAWA is being developed by NICE Developers and TBI company ERA Contour, with ERA Contour also responsible for the construction. Mei architects and planners serve as the architect, and Focus on Impact acts as the investor for the rental homes. An international team of experts, including Pieters Bouwtechniek, DERIX Group, Pirmin Jung, Adviesbureau Hamerlinck, DGMR, Aldus Bouwinnovatie, Peutz, Customised Construction Advice, Piet Vollaard, Bureau Stadsnatuur, and Copijn, is involved in the development, design, and execution of SAWA.

Directions to SAWA

Located in the Lloydkwartier, SAWA enriches a district known for its dynamic blend of residential, commercial, and cultural spaces. To reach this iconic new addition to Rotterdam's skyline, visitors can easily access the area via public transport or by car. The Lloydkwartier is well-connected, making SAWA accessible from various parts of the city and beyond.

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